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Thread: Comparing Vintage Esterbrook LJ and Dollar Pens to modern pens

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    Default Comparing Vintage Esterbrook LJ and Dollar Pens to modern pens

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    Last edited by Medievalist; June 4th, 2022 at 09:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Comparing Vintage Esterbrook LJ and Dollar Pens to modern pens

    I think the Estie would be more expensive, although it is hard to compare 1950 prices for fountain pens to those of today. To start with, everybody wrote with a fountain pen in 1950 if they wrote in ink. Today, people often talk of using a fountain pen as a hobby.

    Best I can tell, the Estie was more expensive than a third-tier pen, like the Arnold or the Wearever: https://www.penhero.com/PenGallery/W...verGallery.htm

    And the Estie was less expensive than the first-tier pens, such as Parker and Sheaffer.

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    Medievalist (May 21st, 2022)

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    Default Re: Comparing Vintage Esterbrook LJ and Dollar Pens to modern pens

    When discussing a vintage Esterbrook, the nib is the variable.

    While I appreciate your inquiry, it is like asking
    which modern safety razor compares to one from the 1940s. It is the blade that is the variable.

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    Medievalist (May 23rd, 2022)

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    Default Re: Comparing Vintage Esterbrook LJ and Dollar Pens to modern pens

    Preppies are almost throwaway pens, while vintage Esterbrooks are among the hardiest fountain pens out there. Even their sacs last longer than anticipated.

    If you determine the original purchase price of your Esterbrook LJ and adjust for cost of living from then to now, that might help determine what would be a fair equivalent today for price and quality.

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    eachan (May 24th, 2022), Medievalist (May 23rd, 2022), welch (July 6th, 2022)

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    Default Re: Comparing Vintage Esterbrook LJ and Dollar Pens to modern pens

    The Esterbrook J was a low cost "everyman's pen." I don't know if the pen price varied depending on the nib installed, other than for whichever nib series was installed. A new pen with a 1000 series nib cost less than the same pen with the same 2000 series nib.
    For that matter, I don't know if the various nibs in the same series (1000; 2000; 9000) were priced differently or were the same cost. I only know the 1000's cost less than the 2000's, which cost less than the 9000's. A 1556 cost less than a 2556, which cost less than a 9556, even though all three were a "Firm Fine" and wrote the same. The 1000 was the least expensive because they were un-tipped. 2000's were folded over, and cost less than the 9000 which were tipped.
    I know some of the nibs were more popular than others, and the rarer nibs fetch more than the common nibs do today. ☹️

    The Esterbrook's had steel nibs that were easily changed. Their competition, with few exceptions, had 14K nibs. The low tier Waterman's, like the Dauntless, for example, ($2.95 in 1942) had a 14K gold nib. Parker did produce lower cost pens, as well as expensive ones. The Parker 21 in 1948 cost $5, while the expensive 51 went for $15 that year. Still far, far less than say a Montblanc and other top tier pens sold for.

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    Default Re: Comparing Vintage Esterbrook LJ and Dollar Pens to modern pens

    Esterbrook also advertised "buy one pen body and three points! It's Like buying three different pens!".

    The third-tier pens, the real "everyman's pens", the economy pens came with steel nibs. The 9xxx Estie nibs were made like the Parker 51 Special: a tip welded to the steel nib. Years ago, I bought third tier pens that were being sold cheap in bunches of six or a dozen, and tried repairing all. I can't remember the details of their nibs, and I was more interesting in getting their filling systems working. Those I didn't give away at sidewalk fairs are probably stuck in parts boxes hidden away. I've a hunch that their nibs were something like the Esterbrook 1000 nibs.

    I guess we suffer from the popularity of the fountain pen "hobby" and the silly sellers' belief that anything forty years old MUST be a valuable "vintage" pen. Haven't seen the old "buy 'em by the bag" deals in about ten years. If nothing else, we could see a history of the fountain pen in the 1930s and '40s...barrel styles from first-tier pens imitated by Arnold and others.

    Almost forgot to say that the Esterbrook Dollar and Transitional Js were and still are superb pens. Beautiful. Tougher than any other pens. Sacs that sometimes have lasted until now (!). The great swappable nib-units. Easy to replace the sac without breaking anything. By material and design and workmanship, far better than modern pens we can buy for about $100 or less.
    Last edited by welch; July 14th, 2023 at 01:27 PM.

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